chemistry, it’s amazing — in coaching and in business

June 24, 2008 at 11:12 pm | Posted in Business | 2 Comments

For years, I have been trying to figure out what makes a coach successful. At first I thought it must be experience. That’s why I guy like Bill Belichick could get run out of Cleveland on a rail for being a failure, then gain experience and go build a dynasty in lowly New England. But wait… then there’s Jimmy Johnson, who was successful as a college coach, then built a dynasty in Dallas, but ultimately failed badly when taking over in Miami. Ah, so it must be the players! But that doesn’t hold up under scrutiny either because teams often swing wildly from year to year with the same crop of healthy talent, sometimes the coach makes a difference, sometimes not.

I thought about this due to all the recent rumblings (like this one) over Yahoo! CEO Jerry Chang. The CEO comparison game starts, and folks start talking about track records of failures, and turnarounds, and stock prices, and profitability, etc., etc. And I thought, “man does this feel the same as a team looking for a new head coach!”

Here are two things I’m sure of after playing and coaching for many years:

1) Head coaches get way too much credit for a team’s success.

2) Head coaches get way too much blame for a team’s failure.

To me, it boils down to chemistry. What’s that mean? It’s a confluence of incalculable factors that lead to the success or failure of a group of people. Yes, there are things you can do to mitigate risk and increase your chances of success, but in the end, it’s the unknown variable combinations that seem to dictate the final outcome. If the outcome is good, there’s a lot of chest thumping. If it’s bad, there’s a lot of finger pointing. And I’m just not sure either is justified.



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  1. […] really lead to success by copying their formulas?  Or does success much more depend on that crazy chemistry thing I talked about […]

  2. Cool site, love the info.

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